THE CWU postal workers top leadership, Hayes and Ward, on Thursday called off the rolling strikes and suspended all strike action, except in the Crown Post offices, so that a month of secret talks can take place with the Royal Mail and the government.
The talks are to last till September 4th and are to be secret, with no reports about them to be made anywhere, unless Royal Mail agrees to it.
The fate of 160,000 workers is to be decided behind their backs!
The workers will be informed of their fate when the final solution for the Royal Mail has been finalised. They will be told that there is absolutely no alternative to this plan which is supported by management, government and their union leaders.
That secret talks are an ultra-sensitive issue, especially when so many thousands of jobs are at stake is obvious. The union leaders think so too.
The joint statement by the CWU and Royal Mail handed out to the media (see the CWU website) says the following about the period of talks up to September 4th.
‘. . . that, during this period the talks are on a confidential basis with no media or internal briefings unless explicitly jointly agreed. The CWU Executive and Royal Mail Board will receive regular updates on progress and would also be expected to undertake this confidentiality clause.’
The actual CWU letter to the branches 727/07 describing the same statement contains no mention of this secrecy anywhere between the start of the letter and the signatures of the union leaders at the end of it. They are already worried about the response of their members.
Trying to hide the fact that the talks are secret will rebound on the leadership, for sure.
Neither will the members be overjoyed when they learn that the secret talks are to be hosted and facilitated by TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber.
This is the equivalent of receiving the kiss of death.
He hosted and facilitated the talks between the FBU and the fire employers and the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, in 2002-2003.
The FBU went into the talks seeking a 30 per cent wage rise, and came out of the Barber facilitated talks minus all of their hard-won terms and conditions of service and with a 15 per cent wage rise over three years, provided they gave up their conditions of service on a timescale required by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Barber played the same role in the Gate Gourmet dispute in 2005 after the company sacked 800 workers by megaphone.
He signed the Compromise Agreement that agreed to mass redundancies and the company’s survival plan. Gate Gourmet were so grateful to him that they publicly thanked him on their website.
He will be playing the same role in these talks, with over 40,000 jobs at stake.
There must be no secret talks! NEC members of the CWU must refuse to keep quiet about what is taking place, and the branches and regions must condemn this attempt at secret diplomacy.
Everybody knows that the strikes were getting stronger and that a national demonstration would have attracted many, many thousands of workers and youth, and set the scene for mass strike action to beat the bosses and their Brown government.
This is why the whole CWU must insist that there be no secret talks, that the strike action and the national demonstration be restored and that leaders who are not prepared to do this must resign, and be replaced by leaders who will.
No dirty deal! Forward to victory! Join the WRP and build a new revolutionary leadership inside the trade unions!